The Best Pushup for Building Upper Chest Size and Strength

A major key to a powerful, strong chest is the upper chest. Building it helps create superheroic chest proportions and insures you fill out any T-shirt, with your chest flowing naturally into powerful, strong shoulders.

If you’re in the gym, this means spending plenty of time doing incline bench presses, which, if done correctly, do an excellent job of targeting that upper chest. Can’t get to a gym? There’s still a way to attack the upper chest, says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. Your no-gear solution: The Incline Archer Pushup Hellset.

“In this move,” says Samuel, “we’ll start by coming very close to unilaterally loading our upper chest. That overload is key to stimulating chest growth.”

The key to the Incline Archer Pushup Hellset is the archer pushup itself. The archer pushup forces one side of your chest to shoulder most of your bodyweight, challenging the pecs with more load than a standard pushup. That’s tough enough on the ground, but by moving your feet onto a raised platform, whether it’s a bench or an ottoman or a chair, you’re shifting the angle of the pushup. “We’re opening that upper arm angle,” says Samuel, “and that’ll target the upper chest more.”

The pause in the Incline Hellset here adds even more challenge, forcing you to press up from a dead stop. “We want that pause there to cancel out momentum,” says Samuel, “and also to insure that you’re hitting your proper depth on every rep. It’s easy to cheat on pushups in general, easier still on challenging pushup variations. So that pause keeps you honorable to form.”

Expect to do fewer reps than you think on this, says Samuel, because in some ways, it’s harder than a standard incline bench press. Because of that, you’ll then dropset to double-explode incline pushups. “We still want some volume in here,” says Samuel.

Do it all right, and it’s the anytime, anywhere series that’ll batter that upper chest into muscle growth and strength.

You can use the Inline Archer Pushup Dropset in a variety of ways, says Samuel, either as a standalone chest pump or as an advanced move in a bodyweight or gym chest workout. It can also find a home in a full-body workout.

One key, says Samuel, is execution: Core and glutes must stay tight and squeezed the whole time. “More than any other pushups variation, incline pushups in general tempt you to let your core and glutes sag,” says Samuel. “But when that happens you’re loading your chest less effectively. Fight for a straight line from shoulders through toes and check in every few reps on it.”

Most of all, appreciate the burn.

For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.

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